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Fed's Lockhart: Sept hike could be 'appropriate': Report

A long-awaited Federal Reserve interest rate hike could be "appropriate" in September as current economic data support a move, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart told The Wall Street Journal.

Lockhart told the newspaper that only a "significant deterioration" in economic momentum could persuade him to vote to wait longer.

"I think there is a high bar right now to not acting, speaking for myself," said Lockhart.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart
Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart

The central bank has kept its federal funds rate near zero for about nine years. The Fed has monitored economic data including employment, wage growth and inflation to gauge when it will increase rates.

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Lockhart's comments—ahead of the government's monthly release of employment data Friday—follow similar remarks from James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed. Bullard, who isn't a voting member of the Fed's policymaking committee, told the Journal last week that the economy was in "good shape" for a September liftoff.

Still, markets are betting on the Fed waiting longer to hike. Investors have priced a zero percent chance that the Fed will increase rates in September, according to the CME Group FedWatch.

The Fed's next policy meeting is Sept. 16 and 17.